Suicide rates increased dramatically among youth and elderly Ohioans from 2007 through 2018, according to a recent report from the Ohio Department of Health. In Ohio five people die by suicide every day and one youth dies by suicide every 33 hours.

“There’s always been such a stigma when talking about mental illness or death by suicide,” says Linda Stagles, executive director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness Montgomery County Ohio. “That stigma kept everything driven underground and with all the unfortunate shooting incidents across our country, and then, when we were affected here locally, I think people are starting to drop that stigma a little bit and they’re are willing to talk more about it.

According to the recent state report Ohio’s suicide rate is increasing, especially among youths between the ages of 10 and 24, with a 56% increase in deaths from 2007 through 2018.

“Suicide in Ohio and nationally is a growing public health epidemic, particularly among young people,” says Ohio Department of Health Director Amy Acton.

There were 271 people between the ages of 10 and 24 who died by suicide in 2018. That is two more deaths in the same age group compared to the 269 deaths by suicide in 2017. However, the trend becomes more alarming over more than a decade. In 2007 there were 174 such deaths.

The report says the most common method of suicide is firearms, followed by asphyxiation and drug overdose.

Across the state of Ohio the overall number of suicides increased to 1,836 in 2018 from 1,744 in 2017. But even more alarming the number of suicides has increased by nearly 45% from the 1,268 suicides reported in 2007.

In addition to the spike in young people suicides have increased nearly 48% for senior adults, ages 65 and older, in just over a decade. Of those 65 and older there were 333 suicides in 2018 compared to 176 in 2007. In 2017, 300 suicides were reported.

Warning signs of suicide can include a major change in mood or behavior, appearing consistently unhappy/depressed, irritable or being withdrawn from family or friends, the report stated.

Dayton Children’s Hospital offers mental health programming for children and adolescents. Another community support service is Samaritan Behavioral Health. It has a 24-hour crisis hotline at 937-224-4646. The Montgomery County Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services’ free app, GetHelpNow Montgomery County, is a quick way to find services for addiction and mental health treatment. To connect with the National Alliance on Mental Illness Montgomery County Ohio, visit nami-mc.org or call 937-299-3667.

“Never give up hope,” Stagles says. “There are new treatment approaches to all different mental health diagnosis coming out every day. Being supported and learning about mental health conditions is the best way to go about helping everyone who suffers from that.”

If someone shows signs of suicide call 911 if necessary. Help them connect with ongoing support such as the Crisis Text Line (text “4hope” to 741741, a 24-hour crisis line); and encourage them to seek a counselor for additional help.

Currently, there is only one clinic in the state, Adam-Amanda Mental Health Rehabilitation Center, which is designed to give people being discharged from psychiatric hospitals more time in recovery before returning home. The center opened in Athens in 2018.

The 16-bed Adam-Amanda Mental Health Rehabilitation Center was named after Adam Knapp and Amanda Baker, two young people from Ohio who died by suicide shortly after being released from hospitals. Knapp’s family was from the Athens area. This kind of step-down center covers a large gap in the continuum of care throughout Ohio.

Stagles says the vision in the beginning was to have six of these centers throughout the state. Toledo will be the next one that goes in, and then, Dayton.

“(The National Alliance on Mental Illness) Ohio got involved and was talking with the Knapp and Baker families about the need for this type of center and if that would have been around for the two kids their chances of survival would have been increased,” Stagles says.

For anyone who wants to contribute—corporations, foundations or individuals, donations can be set up through National Alliance on Mental Illness Ohio, or National Alliance on Mental Illness Montgomery County Ohio. All of the money will go toward the building, furnishings and hiring a staff at the Adam-Amanda center.